Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Friday, April 5, 2019


The Private Eye by Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin (2015)

Brian K. Vaughan is a superstar in the world of comic books and graphic novels.  Now 42, he has won 17 Eisner Awards, 14 Harvey Awards, two Joel Schuster Awards, a Wired Rave Award, a British Fantasy Award,  and a Hugo Award -- this does not count the many times he has been nominated.  He has such classic series to his credit as Ex Machina (50 issues, plus four special issues, all reprinted in ten volumes), Y:  The Last Man (60 issues, collected in ten volumes; now in production as a television series from FX), Runaways (co-created by Vaughan and artist Adrian Alphona for Marvel Comics; although the two left after 42 issues, the series continued for another 28 issues and the characters were included in various cross-over adventures within the Marvel Universe; a new series premiered in 2017;  Runaways also has appeared as a television series on Hulu with two seasons aired thus far), Pride of Baghdad (a 2006 graphic novel that won a IGN Award for Best Graphic Novel), Saga (the first issue of this ongoing series appeared in 2012; 54 issues has been released thus far, collected in nine volumes), and Paper Girls (26 issues so far in this ongoing series; the first 25 issues have been collected in five volumes).  Vaughan has also written for X-Men, Captain America, Doctor Strange, The Hood, Spider-Man/Doctor Octopus, Batman, Green Lantern, Superman, Young Justice, Swamp Thing, The Escapist, and The Walking Dead, among others.  His television work includes stints at Lost and Under the Dome.  He has also written scripts for an untitled Silver Surfer film and an untitled Mobile Suit Gundam film -- both in development.


Artist Marcos Martin has won two Eisners and Harvey award, and has been nominated for another three Eisner and two Harvey Awards.  His comic book work includes Batgirl:  Year One, Doctor Strange, The Amazing Spider-Man, Captain America, Daredevil, and Green Arrow.  In addition to working with Brian K. Vaughan on The Private Eye, the two have collaborated on The Walking dead:  The Alien and the on-going series Barrier.

The Private Eye was originally released as a ten-issue, digital, pay-want-you-want comic book running from 2013 to 2015, with IDW releasing all ten issues in print form with this collection in 2015.

In the world of The Private, all information -- including everyone's personal information -- was stored in the Cloud.  Then one day, the Cloud burst and everyone's darkest secrets were revealed.  Lives were destroyed, the economy was shattered, and the world was altered forever.  Forty years later, the population has adjusted, protecting their privacy by use of various individualized masks for all their public interactions.  Masked identities are hidden from all but close friends and family -- and in some cases, not even them.  Law enforcement has been taken over by Journalists who have broad authority.  In the underbelly of this society are the Paparazzi, who mine personal information by any means necessary.

Our protagonist is an unnamed paparazzi, who goes by the initials P.I. (and sometime by the Greek symbol for the letter pi).  His assistant is a teen-age girl named Melanie, not yet of legal age to don a mask and be given a pseudonym.  P. I. stumbles across a convoluted plot to change the world by restoring the internet convoluted plot.  The violent mystery that results is a mind-bending roller-coaster of a tale, behind which lay deep questions about the nature of privacy and what we might to to protect it. 

The Private Eye is not an easy book to get into but, as the action speeds up, so does the reader's appreciation, bolstered by some jaw-dropping art by Martin depicting the strange world of 2076.  (The choice of a date was not accidental.)

It's not the best example of Brian K. Vaughan's work, but it is still a pretty good one.  And it stands far ahead of many of the graphic novels released over the past five years.

Give it a try.

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